The Dangers of Unrestricted Devices and the Effects of Pornography on the Brain

The Dangers of Unrestricted Devices and the Effects of Pornography on the Brain

Being a teenager is hard. We’ve all lived it and most of us have survived it without the effects of long-term trauma. However, as time goes on young adults face new challenges that make this time of their life even harder. As a result of this, it’s easy for teenagers to turn to the internet and digital devices for a sense of escape. However, the more time they spend on their devices the likelihood of being exposed to harmful content increases dramatically. 

Premature exposure to pornography is one of the many rabbit holes students can accidentally find themselves spiraling down. Some students discover themselves suffering from this online addiction before they can fully comprehend what is unfolding on the screens before them. Mirror neurons in the brain convince people that they are experiencing what they see. Children learn in large part by imitation, with mirror neurons involved in the process of observing what other people do and imitating those behaviors. 

Watching this type of videography can create long-lasting, harmful ideals about intimacy and alter a child’s behavior in the long term in just one viewing. Repeated viewings of this content can propel them into a future of unhealthy relationships with romantic partners and prompt sexual advances in inappropriate settings.  

Pornography has stronger effects among children and youth than other forms of media because it shows a much higher degree of sexual explicitness. Here are some of the ways pornography abuses the minds of the young individuals interacting with it... 

  1. Encourages acts of violence and aggression towards women. Although teenagers of any gender have access and can choose to watch these videos or see explicit images, it is typically males who turn the visuals they see into violent acts against females. Pornography, in comparison to other sexual representations in the media, is undoubtedly more sexist and antagonistic towards women. The hostility and violence directed at females depicted in most mainstream pornography today can educate young men that behaving aggressively and being demeaning to women is socially acceptable, if not desirable. 
  2. It doesn’t accurately reflect the dynamic in most modern-day healthy relationships. Learning how to develop healthy and supportive romantic and sexual relationships is a central developmental issue for teens. Pornography portrays inaccurate stereotypes that men are supposed to be sex-driven and women are sexual objects. 
  3. The repeated viewings of pornography can perpetrate addictions to both sex and pornography. Any addiction is an extension of reward-based learning. Each time someone interacts with one of these behaviors it alters the brain and slowly reshapes future practices. Soon, it becomes an uncontrollable urge and what was once a recreational activity is now a coping strategy that students can’t seem to shake. Long-term impairment occurs as the failure to resist the actions of engaging with pornography, despite the toll this activity can take on social functioning. 
  4. Pornography leads to earlier sexual activity and more lifetime partners. It promotes children to engage in sexual behavior before they are mentally, emotionally and physically prepared without touching on any information regarding the risks and responsibilities of sex, such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Continuously viewing this media increases the number of partners a young person may connect with within their youth or later on in life. 

Pornography can be found around every turn on the internet. Unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate it entirely. Teenagers are naturally curious. When young adults are confronted with a new concept that they can’t seem to fathom, they want to learn more. Students may hear about these topics in the hallways at school or stumble upon the incorrect link on social media. In the digital age, it’s easiest for them to get their answers by typing a search into Google. However, most parents want to do everything in their power to keep their children away from being exposed to explicit information online. Here are a few strategies to limit pornography from being viewed in your household...

  • Communication is key! Listen to and answer questions about human sexuality and their bodies. Yes, this conversation will be uncomfortable for all parties involved. However, a few moments of discomfort can ensure the safety of your children in the long haul. Having a conversation with them can let them know they come to you with their questions and not have to turn to the internet. Open communication is the best preventive measure on the list. 
  • Turn on Google SafeSearch. By utilizing this feature on the account logged into the search engine, it helps to filter out explicit content your child may come across. It locks the controls under the password of the selected account, preventing your child from turning it off. This could include pornography or violence. It is not 100% accurate but will strain the inappropriate content from any type of search, whether that be a web address or images. SafeSearch is only applicable with Google results. The feature will not transfer over to other search engines. 
  • Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Your ISP may provide parental controls, content filters or other screen-time management tools that will limit what can be accessed on your internet network. This is similar to what schools do to block specific content from reaching students during classroom hours. Certain services will not only offer this for the wifi but also apply it to your TV channels. 
  • For Apple users, use Screen Time. This feature is built right into many of the recent iPhone and iPad software. Although it may require some adjustments from time to time, it allows restrictions to be placed on the device regarding how much time is allocated to each application and what content is permitted to be viewed. The restrictions are kept under a passcode that your child can’t access. Apple also authorizes parents to set up a Family Sharing plan, that gives you the opportunity to manage their devices remotely. 
  • For Android Users, use Wellness. Similar to Apple’s Screen Time, Wellness allows individuals to place restrictions on their devices. It also allows parents to instill parental controls on the given device. The Family Link feature lets a parent connect to their child’s device so you can set the digital ground rules. This gives parents the ability to allocate screen time, lock the device remotely and filter the content their child has access to. 

No matter what blockers or parental controls you utilize it’s important to recognize that there are always ways to get around that. As technology continues to develop, so does the creativity of our kids. The best way to protect them is by keeping communication open. If you see inappropriate things appearing in the search results of your child’s phone, have a conversation. Explain, what pornography is, why it exists, why it’s bad for them and answer any questions they may have in an honest manner. Using these tools to limit mature content is more effective when it’s accompanied by a chat about love, relationships and sexuality. If they know they can come to you, without fear of upsetting you they may be more open to a discussion in the future.